Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera City Council member Charles Rigby talks with Fernanda Camara-Perez of Consulado De Mexico En Fresno about assistance available to the Madera community at Washington Elementary School in July.
For a few days in December, the Mexican consulate will sprout a brief branch in the city of Madera. The purpose won’t be diplomacy so much as to serve local immigrants.
“They chose to be here? Okay. Our job is to take care of them, making sure they don’t lose their roots and their links to Mexico,” said Maria Fernanda Camara of the Mexican Consulate in Fresno.
Camara is in charge of a Fresno-based mobile consulate that travels around eight counties to a different Valley city each week of the year for four out of five weekdays. The most popular service offered is providing a consular identification card to those with both a Mexican birth certificate and some form of Mexican photo identification.
“Most of the forms of ID that we take, because they’re issued by our government, are not taken by the governments in California,” said Camara.
This relates to the second major focus of the mobile consulate, which is to safeguard the legal and civil rights of Mexicans in Madera.
“As vulnerable as you might see most of them, it’s because they don’t have their documents with them,” Camara said. “We have instances through which we can help them reach out to their government or their families and get those documents.”
A third purpose of the mobile consulate is to help Mexicans better integrate in Madera.
“No matter the reasons why they came to the U.S. they are now here and they better become part of their new societies,” Camara said. “We can do something to help.”
This is needed, she said, because “we as Mexicans have a very difficult culture. We don’t ask anything. We think we know everything. We don’t understand that it’s okay to ask. (But) they trust us of the consulate.”
The mobile consulate has come to the area before, but not within city limits — at least until this summer. Before then, the consulate and an average of 110 immigrants each day squeezed into the lobby of the Madera County Public Health Department. In July, the consulate instead occupied a classroom and cafeteria at George Washington Elementary School for a few days.
“We thought by moving them into the city they might be able to serve more people, especially if we could get them a bigger space,” said City Councilman Charles Rigby. “And so the mayor has been working diligently alongside of me with the consulate. Between the mayor’s efforts and my own, we were able to partner with Madera Unified to get them here during the summer.”
The Mexican mobile consulate will next return to Madera for four days in December, but Rigby hopes to see a better locale for it next year, enabling more services for Mexican immigrants here.
“We’re looking to actually expand the 30-plus services that they already offer as we move them into perhaps an even bigger space,” he said. “Something like Pan Am park, or something along those lines, where they’ll also be able to offer services through their legal counsel as well.”